In 2017, 4,761 people died in crashes involving large trucks on North Carolina roadways and others throughout the country. That was a 9% increase in large truck fatalities in a year when traffic fatalities overall dropped by 2%. The increase in crashes may be caused by drivers who are trying to get to their destination before they are forced to stop work. According to federal regulations, drivers are required to take a break after eight hours behind the wheel.
Federal rules also mandate that drivers can only drive for 11 hours over any period of 14 hours. However, a representative from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration doesn’t necessarily think that the rule is a contributing factor to increased accidents and deaths. Another representative of the FMCSA said that speeding deaths have actually declined in recent years and that drivers who speed are routinely cited.
Drivers have mixed feelings about why large truck fatalities remain high. While some believe that the the break rule is misguided, others believe that truckers themselves are to blame. One individual said that he saw some drivers practice bad habits such as texting or putting their feet on the dash while the truck was moving. Truck drivers say that greater access to truck stops could help with driver fatigue, which is another common reason why accidents occur.
Drivers who fail to comply with federal trucking regulations may be negligent if an accident occurs. Negligence may include driving while tired or operating a vehicle that is not properly maintained. A truck driver’s employer may also be negligent for failing to maintain a vehicle or by allowing a person to drive despite a lack of credentials. Injured victims may be entitled to compensation for medical bills and other related damages.